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Peru woman, man in jail after police say she admitted to stealing gas station donation jar

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PERU, Ind. – Peru police say 23-year-old Danielle Hartleroad admitted to officers she took a donation jar from a Marathon gas station and now she’s being charged with theft.

The donation jar is for Jacob Hiles, a 27-year-old man who was severely hurt in a serious vehicle accident in Peru on June 20. The crash left him with a traumatic brain injury. The money was to help him and his fiancé fill in the gaps.

"He can't work," Olivia Albright said. "So, we don't know when he can go back to work. His fiancé, she's his caregiver right now."

Albright says she knows Hartleroad's family. One member even reached out to her on Facebook on Thursday.

"Their family is devastated by what's happened," Albright said. "I believe that she's been struggling with her own demons. I do know that she's very remorseful over what she's done."

Albright says she was overwhelmed when her friend, Shelly Rhodes, asked if she could put donation jars around Peru to help Hiles and his family. She says she is also full of gratitude for the people who gave and continue to give, especially in a community where money might be tight. Albright wants others to remember that if they ever think about stealing a donation jar.

Michael Sturgeon

"To take that, you don't know what that was needed for," Albright said. "For him, Jacob, we don't know when he's going to go back to work. He needs the money. Other people need the money when those jars are there. People don't just put them out for no reason."

The theft was caught on surveillance footage at the gas station. There is also a man in the tape who police say is Michael Sturgeon. Police arrested him Friday for his alleged role in the incident.

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